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Flash flaw potentially makes every webcam or laptop a peephole

But it's a Google problem - Chrome only, insists Adobe

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A security flaw thought to have been fixed by Adobe in October 2011 has reappeared thanks to a new vulnerability involving Flash Player browser plug-ins.

The as yet unpatched vulnerability creates a means to seize control of webcams without permission before siphoning off video and audio from victims' PCs. The clickjack-style flaw was uncovered by security consultant Egor Homakov, who developed a harmless proof-of-concept exploit to underline his concerns and push for an early fix.

"This works precisely like regular clickjacking - you click on a transparent flash object, it allows access to Camera/Audio channel. Voila, attacker sees and hears you," Homakov explains in a blog post.

Adobe security team spokeswoman Heather Edell confirmed there was an issue but said it was limited to Flash Player for Google Chrome.

"This vulnerability affects users on Flash Player installed with Google Chrome," Edell told El Reg in an email. "Google is working to resolve the issue and plans to provide a fix this week," she added.

The vulnerability would be potentially handy for both perverts and NSA-style spies. Tinfoil hatters who tape over webcams when they aren't in use have been vindicated by the discovery of the problem.

Robert Hansen, director of product management for WhiteHat Security, said the security model adopted by Adobe Flash has contributed to the problem.

"The basic problem with Flash is that it doesn't have modal dialogues that pop up outside of the browser, which can alert the user to what's about to happen," Hansen explained. "Because the dialogues are on the same page as the adversary's code, they can overlay things, make it opaque, and so on, to effectively hide the dialogue warning."

Google recently imposed a seven day deadline for vendors to respond to security bug reports. Homakov's discovery represents the first chance to see whether Google itself can stick to such tight deadlines. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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